Tim Blais A Canadian Science Nerd And Gifted Musician

Tim Blais is a science nerd who can sing and versify. He also plays piano, drums, & a number of stringed instruments including guitar, but it is for his science-based acapella parody songs that he has become best known. Blais calls them “parody” songs, and they are covers of songs with witty, new lyrics, but I’m not sure parody is the right word.

Unlike Weird Al Yankovic, Tim Blais doesn’t take the mickey out of the original song. Rather, Blais replaces a song’s lyrics with science concepts that fit the particular song, then sings with multitracked vocal accompaniment from himself. While there is a “fun aspect” to hearing a song reimagined, Blais’s songs also educate.

That’s an achievement! Emanuel Lindström comments on YouTube: “Apart from the amazing background music, the lyrics were so perfectly fine-chosen to fit the original song melody. You made everything just fall into place. Great twist at the end. You sing really well too!” Speaking of the science content, Anthony Lannes says, “I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry, I taught atomistics for many years, and this is likely the best preview of what it’s all about I have seen in my life. Congrats for this work !

So how does Tim Blaise know so much about science? He studied it at university. Born in Hudson, Quebec, Blais graduated with a master’s degree in high-energy theoretical physics with honors from McGill University, Montreal, in 2013. His first video, Rolling in the Higgs (2012), was based on Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. It took 60 hours to make. The success of the video, which discusses Higgs boson particles, encouraged Blais to release further tracks under his A Capella Science moniker.

What an incredible cover of Bohemian Rhapsody. This was only A Capella Science’s second video, yet Blais sings multiple parts (no matter how low or how high) and the lyrics about string theory fit the original song almost to the syllable. Not surprisingly, Brian May, the Queen guitarist who has a PhD in astrophysics, picked up on the song and posted it on his website. The song was also posted by George Takei (Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek). Blais says he began working on Bohemian Gravity before Rolling in the Higgs, but the project soon became massive, and took longer than expected. The success of Rolling in the Higgs encouraged him to finish it.

Tim Blaise puts his love of science, and mixing science with music, down to the influence of Bill Nye, who hosted the TV programme “Bill Nye the Science Guy”, which concluded each episode of the show with a song that summarised the show.

After he graduated with his master’s degree in theoretical physics, Blais worked at the TRIUMF particle accelerator center, Vancouver, Canada, until he found that he could support himself as a science educator through his YouTube channel (advertising, merchandise, posters), music sales, and public appearances. His public appearances include music performances and talks on science, science culture & education, and issues related to his video productions.

Blaise was the Alberta, Canada National Music Centre’s artist-in-residence in 2014. He was featured on the TV programme, Canada’s Smartest Person 2015. He won his episode, but not the season finale. In October 2022, Tim Blaise gave a keynote address at the California Science Education Conference. He has spoken and performed music at conferences including Canada-Wide Science and Fair SynBioBeta (a synthetic biology conference), as well as at Universities as far afield as the University of Oslo and KAUST (Saudi Arabia). He has also appeared at the CERN Laboratories in Europe, and is a veteran of online events.

On his Facebook page, Tim Blaise describes A Capella Science as “an educational and utterly nerdy online video project”. Over the years, he has released witty song reinterpretations on subjects such as exoplanets, CRISPR gene editing, entropic time, evolutionary biology, insulin & the treatment of diabetes, covid19 vaccines, quarantine, quarks, nanobots & the Banting diet. I expect that a song on AI will be released soon. Nonetheless, even if you are not into Science, A Capella Science songs can be appreciated for their musical artistry. If you would like to see more from A Capella Science, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel.

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